Cooking with olive oil: should we heat it up or not?

Mostly, traditional vegetable oils are used for cooking. This is a wide-spread habit, because these oils have a neutral taste and are cheaper, which is an important question when we need large quantities.

Olive oil is mainly used cold or in very low quantities in baking. In the past, a lot of information appeared according to which, in the opinion of experts, it is not advisable to use olive oil for baking, as it can produce carcinogenic substances at high temperatures. This type of oil starts smoking at 165-190 degrees Celsius depending on the variety. Not only because of health concerns, but also because the relatively intense and distinctive taste of olive oil, it probably shouldn’t be used for cooking.

People who are interested in cooking have access to a lot of related information today. However, reading up doesn’t make us experts, and it is also true that the position of science can change a lot from one year to the next on a single issue. The use of olive oil for cooking is no exception: according to some reviews it is harmful, but others claim it poses no danger to health. There are articles claiming that cooking with olive oil is simply not healthy, but clear scientific evidence can’t be found on the issue. So no one can affirm that olive oil is worse than any other type of oil.

If, on the basis of the available information, we can’t decide whether to use it for cooking, we can still decide based on another important factor, its taste. The particular, strong flavor of olive oil is taken over by the dishes that contain it. This can be a good thing if we are cooking Mediterranean food or vegetables, but if we want to obtain a completely different flavor, this benefit will turn into a drawback.

All in all, if we have olive oil at home and we are about to cook something, we can safely do it, as there is no clearly-established reason why we should avoid this kind of oil for the said purpose.

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